Jobs’s leave of absence is cause for concern — and for good thoughts and well-wishes. It is not cause for panic.
Of course he would say that. He's a senator.
I haven't seen him disclose anything about owning Apple stock since 2007. I wouldn't blame you for the assumption, but I don't think he's a shareholder.
I think Jobs has been engineering a healthy Apple that can withstand his absence for some time now. Still, I don't know many better showmen than Jobs in the tech sector.
Maybe he only owns options? :D (j/k)
The question is whether Apple can come up with the next ipod or iphone without him. That, I sincerely doubt.
I suspect Jobs' influence pushed them from great products to fantastic ones but that's a role the executive team should be able to fill at this point. Look at the numbers...
Tim Cook (COO): Been working with Steve Jobs since 1997
Jonathan Ive (VP of Industrial Design): Been working with Steve Jobs since 1996
Bertrand Sertlet (VP of Software Engineering): Been working with Steve Jobs since 1997.
Scott Forstall (VP of Software Design): Been working with Steve Jobs since 1997
That's the bottom line for me. After working with Jobs' for 13 or 14 years you have to assume some of the magic has rubbed off. So this is a fairly competent group that should be more than capable of creating great products.
I think that makes Serlet one of Jobs's most long-term colleagues. His deep experience of software evolution processes may be one of Apple's most underestimated assets.
The NeXT platform has gone through seven different CPU architectures (by my count) and an enormous API merger with the Mac OS, yet shows no signs of getting bogged down. Most other companies can't seem to manage an operating system for even a decade before it loses its momentum under feature bloat and internal fighting over direction (c.f. Windows Vista, Symbian).
(edit -- I initially wrote that Serlet designed Interface Builder for NeXT, but that was another Frenchman, Jean-Marie Hullot.)
And if people were flocking to Apple computers on the strength of their engineering, I'd agree with your point.
However, Apples' recent success has been because of its design sophistication which Jobs is rightly seen as the inspiration for.
I chose it over a ThinkPad at the time, which I considered roughly comparable, on account of the displayport. No other laptop in that price range had DVI out without an expensive dock.
The engineering that went into the A4 is quite significant, but you wouldn't know it was there - except that the UI is very responsive, the unit runs cool, etc.
So you are right in a sense: people don't buy Apple products for the engineering - it's the design. But the engineering makes them not crappy. So they keep Apple products because of the engineering.
(If usability is making a product easy to use, 'useful-ability' should be making the product fulfilling customers wants/needs.)
The idea for the scroll wheel was suggested by Apple's head of marketing, Phil Schiller, who in an early meeting said quite definitively, "The wheel is the right user interface for this product."
Schiller also suggested that menus should scroll faster the longer the wheel is turned, a stroke of genius that distinguishes the iPod from the agony of competing players.
Jobs' role is best described like this (from History of the iPod: http://lowendmac.com/orchard/05/origin-of-the-ipod.html#0)
Steve Jobs took a very active role in the project, scheduling frequent meetings with the directors from Fadell's group and PortalPlayer. During these meetings he would tell them in detail what issues he had with the device, whether it was the interface, sound quality, or the size of the scroll wheel.
This was rare for an Apple project at the time, and it reassured the leaders in the group that the project would not be axed immediately.
So while Jobs was absolutely involved and an influence he didn't "design the interface"
Actually, I would assume that none of them are really cut out to be alpha dog. For Jobs it's been my way or the highway for close to 35 years (even if he was the one hitting the road at times). That's a personality type. None of them have a Pixar on their resumes.
If the future of Apple's success is depends on the transfer of magic between executives, antenna gate was a preview of the problems Apple faces. A deep bench is all well and good, but their can be only one successor.
Five or ten years after that though? When Jobs' influence and vision has faded a little bit, maybe some new blood has come on board, and maybe some of the guys there already have gotten more traction for ideas that would previously had been shut down by Jobs?
I'm not saying it'd be a disaster, just saying.. who knows what the admittedly brilliant senior vice-presidents would do if Jobs weren't there. I guess we'll find out sooner or later.
I sincerely hope that Jobs' vision and obsession has rubbed off, because whether you like Apple products or not, their influence in the tech industry is sorely needed.
I think the question is more 'Will people BELIEVE they can come up with the next ipod or iphone without him?'. The confidence that Apple products will win out has helped drive their success and allowed them to popularise novel products like tablet computers where others could not hope to. Whether the confidence and the 'reality distortion field' will be retained without Jobs is what I see as in doubt. If they introduce another great new product - will they get the same rate of adoption?
What other worlds are left for Apple to conquer? Where else in your life can you possibly put an Apple product?
On top of your television? Maybe. The AppleTV is actually a damn good product, but it still hasn't gained much traction. Many folks still aren't quite sure what it does. Heck, I've used one and I'm still not quite sure what it does. I know what it won't do, though, and that's play my DVD collection.
Games consoles? I'm doubtful -- Apple's strength is in making better user interfaces than everyone else, but when you play a game you're at the mercy of the third party developer's interface. (And yes, they already failed at this once).
Apple has indicated their interest in this direction by plunking down a gigantic data center in North Carolina. And they have demonstrated their skills, judgement, and foresight at creating hosted services and platforms with iTunes and the App Store(s).
Worlds to conquer need not be new hardware segments.
If you posit that mobile devices are the end of the line of hardware innovation, then just imagine all the new software and connected intelligence that can be created for these devices.
I, for one, would welcome Jobs' continued contributions to the future of these technological domains. I really don't see a drop-in replacement for him.
- TVs (being done)
Looking at mass computer categories that aren't really done yet:
- Wearable computers
Granted they're not all likely, or even probable, expansion points for Apple. But if I can think of these in 2 minutes, I'm sure the crack team of product designers at Apple can think of a lot more (before culling most of them and picking the one most sexy option).
I suspect they are going there.
Even B&W has realized this: see all their iPod speaker products. As more and more teens become twenty-somethings with a wage, I expect this product line to grow to be a significant part of B&Ws revenue.
Young people (e.g. teens) don't use CD players. A CD player for them is like LP players: a historical artifact of old generations. Most radio channels today don't have good content, and the good stuff is available over the net. So no receiver either. The only source left for many young people is the computer/iPod/iPad/iPhone.
So Apple has the Hifi solved. They're just waiting for the old generation to get that CD players should be put into the trashbin like they did with the VCR player.
I'm no audio geek, but I can easily tell the difference between CD and mp3 for some of the music I listen to. I even have a CD of Beethoven's Ninth which I've never actually listened to because the audio equipment I have can't do it justice.
Because not listening to it at all gives you more pleasure than listening to it with the best equipment you've got?
I think you should consider the possibility that you may be an audio geek after all.
Still no CD player: you let iTunes rip the CD using Apple Lossless.
Besides, you assume mp3's are 128 Kbits. When you get to 320 Kbit mp3s, most hi fi geeks can't make out the difference in blind tests. (they can always if the test isn't blind and they know which source is which – just like wine taste experiments).
Tests in which I knew what is what were completely worthless. I nearly always thought that I could tell the difference and that ability magically disappeared in blind tests.
I can tell the difference between 128 KBit/s MP3 and a CD, though.
Some resources on the topic:
My advice: Spend $50-100 on a good pair of headphones, and you'll find more justice there than in hi-fi setups costing thousands of dollars.
Of course, this is 'some time' (20 years?) off, but I certainly would like to see such a store happen.
Apple did have a shot at this with the iPod Hi-Fi. It was a speaker system with an iPod dock. It didn't do too well and it was canned in 2007, a year and a half after its introduction.
That said, my gut tells me that Apple isn't done finding markets to zap with their Midas touch (with or without Jobs, but hopefully with Jobs).
At some point they'll fall into irrelevance like all big companies do, but I don't think that will be this year. With or without Jobs.
edit: the ipod touch is only $229, but that's still $129 more than apple tv. anyone have more info about the possibilities of apps?
Given that the iPad has decent games performance at 1024x768, I could see the Apple TV handling most iPad games at 720p, or running them at a lower resolution and upscaling (as the consoles do with many games, for example Halo 3/ODST and GTA IV).
(But, it'd be perfect for Angry Birds TV!)
The question is whether Jonathan Ives can come up with the next ipod or iphone without him. That's by no means a certainty, but I don't think it's as doubt-worthy as your statement.
I mean, the guy looks really freaky on promotional videos. Who knows what he could come up with?
(But seriously... Jobs has assembled a top team and put in place the right kind of company dynamic. It may not last for 50 years. It may not even last for 20 years. But it will probably last for 10 years.)
Apple has now a very strong and experienced executive team and great engineers, who perfomed very well during Job's last leave. Most of all they have a clear product strategy and incredibly streamlined processes in R&D, retail and logistics which enables them to stay very focused. So I believe they will continue to innovate. Apple today is nothing like Apple in the 90's when they were near bankruptcy and without a vision until Jobs came back.
Of course Apple can come up with the next iPod or iPhone. They can even design good ones. Steve Jobs is a fantastic CEO with a well-trained eye for simplicity. The only thing that might be missing in his absence is someone that will relentlessly say "no" to sub-par designs.
So what we're saying is that analysts expect the results to be better than analysts expect the results to be?
What if it turns out that the results aren't quite as good as expected? Or that they're better than expected but not as much better than expected as is apparently now expected? What'll that do to the share price?
I should put in some buy orders at $200 just in case...
If you think he (or the "smart analysts") are wildly optimistic, fine. No need to beat up on strawmen; simple skepticism will suffice.
All I'm saying is that we should also be prepared for the possibility that the earnings report is less, rather than more, than expected. If it were not so, then they wouldn't be very sensible expectations.
I know at work we've been seeing a lot more formerly Windows-only households adding Macs this past quarter.
So if the company manages to do the best it could have done it will beat the official estimates (And it's not at all illogical for an analyst to expect a company to do that even when their official analysis assumes an average)
Sorry for the rant, but this is the second time I see something like this today, and it pisses me off to no end.
The opinion of the market will change as time goes on and people process the information available and more information becomes available.
I don't think its fair to say "another American ignoring the rest of the world" when his whole point is that what matters is how apple does on the NASDAQ after the earnings announcements. In this case, how Apple stock traded in european markets over the holiday really is irrelevant to AAPL. It's nothing personal.
Trading on Xetra was quite active yesterday, but certainly less than a typical Nasdaq day. You should not discount that price movement as irrelevant.
And Gruber's point on earnings releases was a separate one, IMO.
Ha. Sorry about that! I usually only downvote things that are materially wrong or offensive but I know lots of people use it as a vote to say they disagree. Your comment also had a sort of "typical American" derogatory feel to it which you can only get away with until someone points it out. Most people reading HN are probably Americans you know. ;-)
As for the price movement, it is relevant only in that it is exactly the sort of knee-jerk reaction that Apple was avoiding by announcing on a holiday weekend. The movement we see when the market opens will be different given that people have had time to absorb the news, even without the earnings announcement.
And sure, the price movement was a "knee-jerk" reaction, and the price on US open will likely move higher - or lower. An instant drop followed by a flat market pretty much is a textbook example of the stock market reacting to unexpected events, though.
The German market just opened and Apple is now going up:
The collective "fuck" that he felt had nothing to do with steve job's health and everything to do with hoping there is an iPad mini unveiled at the next keynote.
While he idolizes steve jobs, it is apple that brings him his beloved products, so he is hoping that one of his Kowtow yes-men will be able to step up and be the narcissistic "rock-star" and keep delivering updates of his overpriced yuppie toys.
I don't really know, so, discuss...
[http://www.slate.com/id/2281452/ - as I said, not that detailed so I didn't submit it separately]
I've seen this guy write some pretty stupid things, but this takes the cake.
Secondly, I cannot believe that Gruber would state that Apples quarterly report has more importance than a day that remembers a remarkable man. I think Martin Luther King JR day is pretty damn important one. But that`s just me, and my opinion.
"The announcement of his leave was perfectly timed: on a weekday, but a holiday on which the U.S. stock market is closed
More important than the holiday, though, is that Apple announces its quarterly results tomorrow, and they’re expected to be excellent"
See, "more important than the holiday" is referencing Apple's strategy of announcing Jobs' leave on MLK day. Gruber is comparing two things that affect Apple's stock price--announcing on MLK day to avoid a panic, and announcing a day before Apple's Quarterly earnings report, and concluding that the latter tactic is more significant.
Is clearly what is implied there.